Tom Grace: Spyder Web

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Tom Grace Spyder Web
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    Spyder Web
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Spyder Web: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Kilkenny looked over the preliminary mission time line. ‘A three-week op in December is cutting it a little close, sir. My tour is up at the end of next month.’

‘I’m well aware of your status, Lieutenant, and I know that you’re ready to get on with your life. I want you to know that I wouldn’t have called you back without a damn good reason.’

‘I know,’ Kilkenny replied, staring at the picture of a pair of young SEALs in Vietnam that Dawson proudly displayed on his wall. ‘Adm. Roger Hopwood.’

Dawson looked over at the picture. ‘Jolly Roger and I go way back; we toured Nam together. I owe that man my life. He’s the reason JSOC chose us to carry out this mission. This is war, Nolan, and we need some meateaters on this op.’

Dawson stood up and Kilkenny snapped to attention. ‘Lieutenant Kilkenny, you are to assemble your squad and brief them on this assignment. Go over the plan and be ready to brief me on your deployment preparations at eighteen hundred hours. Whatever you need, you’ll get. This one’s for Hopwood.’

‘Aye, aye, sir.’



November 25

Alex Roe slipped out of bed and into the oversized Georgia Bulldog sweatshirt that she’d left on the floor the night before. The shirt draped from her softly curved shoulders to a point on her thigh that was an inch below immodest. She pushed the sleeves up past her elbows, ran her fingers through her disheveled shoulder-length brunette hair, and set about finding something to eat. Roe firmly believed that her daily regimen of diet and exercise had kept her lithe body free of the fatty deposits that accumulate on so many people over the age of forty.

Inside the master bathroom, Randall Johnson was in the midst of his morning ablutions. She marveled at the beauty of the renovated turn-of-the-century factory that now housed Johnson’s multilevel condominium. Many of the building’s original architectural features remained exposed, lending an historic flavor to the contemporary elements of modern living.

The sun, barely over the horizon, poured light through the tall arched windows of the condo’s great room. Long shadows cast by the morning light exaggerated the depth of the brickwork’s relief; the terracotta details formed a study in contrast.

In the kitchen, she ground some fresh gourmet beans and started the coffeemaker. The morning was cold, but pleasant for November in New York, and, after digging out from an early snow, the city was preparing for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving parade. Roe took an apple from the refrigerator, sat down at the sunlit kitchen table, and spread out the morning paper.

Twenty minutes later, she finished her morning reverie, poured another cup of coffee, and walked into the den, where her laptop computer sat waiting for her. With the machine switched on and herself recharged, she set about the task of completing her article by deadline.

Her story on Pangen Research was nearly complete, requiring only a few finishing touches. She was engrossed in a fine point of grammar when Randall Johnson entered quietly behind her, wearing only a robe cinched about his waist. He peered over her shoulder and read some of the text.

‘You better not misquote me, Alex. I want to come across as an intelligent and decisive financial officer who just happens to be a great guy.’

‘Hmm, a CFO who is intelligent and decisive, yet still a great guy. Aren’t those conflicting traits for someone in your position? I’m not sure the readers of NetWorth magazine would believe that.’

‘From what you’ve told me, neither would your editors.’ ‘That, my dear Randy,’ Roe replied while nuzzling his freshly shaven neck,’goes without saying. Editors, by their very nature, are a cynical lot, prone to doubt any journalist’s objectivity.’

‘I would doubt your objectivity, too, if I knew you’d spent the night with a key player in your story.’

Roe pulled away from Johnson’s neck, feigning betrayed surprise. ‘ Et tu, Randy? Though the occasional editor may criticize minor points of my work, none have ever questioned the quality of my research or the depth of my interviews.’

Roe stood and pressed her hand into the matted hairs on his chest, pushed him back into a leather wing-back chair, and straddled his lap. Johnson was six inches taller than she, but the position of their bodies allowed her to gaze down at his salt-and-pepper hair. His body had softened slightly over the past twenty years, but neither of them were college students, and both found that the matured version of their old flame was still quite attractive.

Cradling him against her breasts, she began to kiss his forehead, slowly working her way down to his mouth. Johnson’s arms caressed her back beneath the sweatshirt, gently massaging the muscles along her spine. Her mouth pressed deeply into his; their tongues engaged with a feverish intensity. Gradually, the kisses softened and the embrace grew gentle and close.

‘I don’t have a problem with the depth of your interviews, either.’ He pulled back enough so they were eye-to-eye. ‘Now remember, Pangen Research is the hottest biotech company you have ever seen and their CFO is both brilliant and a great guy.’

‘Yes, sir,’ she answered dutifully. ‘You know, this insecurity over my article is really unbecoming. I don’t recall you ever being this nervous back in college.’

Johnson slumped back in the chair. ‘Back in college, I didn’t have twenty-five million dollars of venture capital and an IPO riding on some term paper. It’s not your article that’s got me on edge; it’s everything with this little company. My little company.’

Johnson stared through the window without really looking at anything. His mind instead focused on the events that had led to his present role as the financial shepherd of a hot young biotech research company.

‘When those scientists came to me with a proposal to bring gene-therapy technologies out of the lab and into medical practice, I believed in them. They had these Nobel Prize-caliber ideas and no clue how to get a company going. I did a little investigation on their work and found what may be the next high-growth industry. It was like discovering Apple back when it was in the garage. I worked damn hard to design a workable business plan, and my board bought into it. In less than two years, I’ve built a company that’s ready to go public, a company that owns a patented stable of purebred retroviruses that could start the biggest medical revolution since antibiotics.’

‘You have a serious case of mother-hen syndrome. Pangen is a textbook example of venture capitalism at its best. You’ve got a group of idealistic research scientists with a vision and no money, matched with a savvy young financier who makes the dream come true against incredible odds. When you’re finished launching this company into the golden land of NASDAQ, we’re writing a book about your adventures.’

‘Maybe,’ he replied coyly, ‘but only if I grant you the rights to the story. I, of course, will retain the movie rights. I wonder whom we can get to play me.’

Roe gave him a reassuring hug. In public, he was the Rock of Gibraltar-exuding confidence and focused leadership. Pangen Research owed its very existence to the forty-two-year-old man in her arms. He was preparing to let his fledgling company go out into the world on its own. Like any parent when a child finally leaves home, he felt the same pride in his work and the same worries about the future.

‘Thanks, Alex, for everything. The past few weeks have been unbelievably tough for me. Your timing couldn’t have been any better.’

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